California Boosts Renewable Energy Plan with Four New Bills

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On Sept. 27th, 2016 California Governor Jerry Brown signed four new bills into law that boost behind-the-meter and utility storage capacity dealing with renewable energy.  Energy storage is becoming a big role in California’s power grids and behind utility meters. Utilities and grid regulators need to be able to integrate ongoing growth of distributed renewable energy generation capacity. The four new laws help “Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) and Southern California Edison (SCE) are in the process of acquiring 1.325 GW of energy storage capacity by 2020 as mandated by California AB 2514, the first energy storage mandate to be enacted by a U.S. state” (Renewable Energy World).

Here is a quick summary of the four laws given by the industry and Renewable Energy World:

  • AB 1637 (Low) — Increases the Self Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) funding by $249 million, sending a clear market signal to industry stakeholders that behind-the-meter energy storage will play a key role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and supporting the next-generation electric grid. Thanks to the California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) recent SGIP reforms, 75 percent of the program budget going forward is now reserved for energy storage.
  • AB 2868 (Gatto) — Requires the CPUC to direct California’s three IOUs to accelerate the deployment of distributed energy storage by filing applications for new programs and investments of up to 500 MW. This bill directly increases the market for energy storage in California, as the 500 MW is in addition to the 1.325-GW procurement goal that California established in 2013.
  • AB 2861 (Ting) — Authorizes the CPUC to create an objective, expedited dispute-resolution process for distributed, behind-the-meter energy resources attempting to establish an interconnection to an IOU’s electricity distribution network. This bill and resulting dispute resolution process will accelerate and reduce Rule 21 interconnection costs.
  • AB 33 (Quirk) — Directs the CPUC and California Energy Commission to evaluate and analyze the potential for all types of long duration bulk energy storage, such as pumped hydro, to help integrate renewable generation into the grid. This bill ensures broader consideration of bulk energy storage’s unique capabilities and market roles.

The four bills tackle different aspects of the challenge of the distribution of energy resource interconnection and push for bulk energy storage in renewable energy. Working together these bills make it easier to obtain these goals.  These bills will not only create renewable energy storage, but will allow for the emergence of numerous clean energy jobs. By developing these plants it will create the need for labor employment and upon completion will need manpower to ensure the facilities are working properly. This was an all around great move by California government officials and the benefits will show over time.